Origins of the RFN

There is perhaps some confusion about the relationship between the Radical Food Network and the Radical Assembly.  These two groups were starting to form around the same time, and it is perhaps not surprising that a lack of clarity might arise.  So I’ve decided to write this to explain my understanding of how things started, and perhaps shed some light on how they may or may not interact in the future.

The idea for the network sprang out of discussions between Graham Jones and myself in the days following the general election.   Graham was one of the people organising the first Radical Assembly.  The discussions can be seen both on this site and on Graham’s blog, along with various conversations on Twitter.  We arranged to meet up at the first Radical Assembly meeting, where Graham was going to introduce me to someone from Streets Kitchen.

As it turned out, I was not at all happy with the way the assembly was managed by the organisers and left in disgust before the end. As luck would have it, I bumped into Graham outside.  So we did the things we needed to do, and I left.  I didn’t see that as being anything to do with the Radical Assembly, and since then I have had no involvement with them and very probably won’t in the future.

The reason I won’t be involved is only partly because of the shortcomings of  the first assembly.  I have heard that they have been addressed now, and maybe they have.  The main reason, though, is that they are organised differently, in a way that I don’t think benefits the Radical Food Network.

The idea behind the RFN is that there is already a number of groups that are involved in similar activities that overlap and could very easily support each other, and could expand the scope of their activities by joining together.  This is the way the Radical Housing Network has worked, and it has done so very successfully.  The Radical Assembly, on the other hand seems to have taken a large group of individuals and formed them into local groups.  Although there is some value in that, groups based purely on a geographical link don’t build upon a shared interest between members.

Times change, and the ways that the various activist groups interact  will likely change as they grow,  so my opinion on this may well change over time.   I’ve no time for people who want to be leaders but, apart from that, I’m more than happy to work with anyone who can work with me.

These are just my opinions – others  are available…

Tony Smetham

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